30 November 2018

Boons and Banes

This idea is not my idea at all. However, I'm posting this for reference since I'll be mentioning the mechanic in other posts.
If you don't want to use boons and banes, you may
  • replace the word "boon" with "bonus of 3" or "advantage"
  • replace the word "bane" with "penalty of 3" or "disadvantage."


Boons and Banes

  • Each Bane or Boon is 1D6.
  • Banes and Boons cancel each other, so only Banes or only Boons will be added to a roll.


  • When making a D20 roll (only a D20 roll) in an advantageous circumstance, the player gains a Boon. 
  • Of all the Boons rolled, the highest number is subtracted from a roll's result.


  • When making a D20 roll (only a D20 roll) in a disadvantageous circumstance, the player gains a Bane.
  • Of all Banes rolled, the highest number is added to a roll's result.

Minimal Chase Rules that Retain a Small Variety of Outcomes

I've been rewriting rules for chases for a long time. I don't really want to use anything else I've ever read, but I like this. I haven't been able to playtest them yet, but Luka Rejec is planning to try them out soon, and I hope to do so in my game in a week. They borrow heavily from Gus L's Appolyon  Player's Guide Part 1, which is a document I've returned to again and again, always gaining inspiration.

If you'd like to have a look at other good chase rules, here are my recommendations:


  • Fast.
  • Not a minigame.
  • Allows a round of missile fire in some chases.


  1. Determine how far the Chased move away from the location of the original encounter: 1D4: 1. near. 2. far. 3. very far. 4. distant. *
  2. To flee or to chase the party rolls 1D6+modifier of slowest party member (-6 to +6. See chart below.) 
    • The slowest party member may drop an item held in their hands to +1 to this roll. 
    • If the party is far before they begin to flee, +1 to this roll.
  3. The non-player party rolls 1D6+modifier (-6 to +6 according the referee's discretion - see chart below.)
  4. Compare the results.
    • If both roll results are the same, each side may exchange a round of missile fire. Then return to step 1 of this procedure.
    • If the Chased roll result is higher, check the enemy's Morale to determine whether they search for the player party. If the Chased dropped something the Chasers desire, add 2 to this Morale roll.
    • If the Chasers's roll result is higher, they catch up to the chased and gain Initiative in the resulting encounter.

Chase bonusCreature
-2Injured or Encumbered
0Heavy armor wearer
+1Medium armor wearer
+2Light armor wearer
* Define these distances however you like. You may wish to make them less abstract by using a multiple of 10' for each, for example. In a dungeon, I would define far as 30'

29 November 2018

Creating a Terse Key (and more) for Caverns of Thracia

We started a group project with the intent of looking back at the classic Judge's Guild module Caverns of Thracia and rewriting it with terse evocative language and formatting to make it more practical for the table.


We've already contacted Jennell Jacquays who suggested contacting Judge's Guild. We’re contacting Judge’s Guild to find out if there’s any possibility of making this an official release, but for now, please do your best to keep it legal and to ensure that it doesn’t function without the Caverns of Thracia book.

  1. We have a style guide and would appreciate your help with
  2. Writing out rooms
  3. Writing out overviews for sections of the dungeon a la Stonehell
  4. Writing faction summaries and other reference appendices
  5. Correcting/understanding the weird bits.
  6. See the document for more information.

We're working on it in a Google Doc. Please leave a comment there requesting permission if you'd like to edit. You can leave comments in the doc, even without permission.

You can chat with us about it in the OSR Discord.

And of course I'll be reading your comments here.

Sample of the Key

Bold text is immediately observed. Normal text is easily observed. Italicized text requires examination/experimentation/etc.

28 November 2018

Cavegirl's (Emmy Allen's) Horrible Wounds formatted for print (the best Death and Dismemberment system)

I made this as a Google Doc, so you can edit it or just export it as a PDF and print it. You can get it here, but don't forget to read the original blog post and tell her what you think about it.

Emmy's Horrible Wounds is the best system for "Death and Dismemberment" I've seen... by a longshot. Other than the very minimal one I wrote, it's the only one I would every actually use in a game. It's wonderful, evocative, and suits lots of situations - probably even all of the ones you'll ever face.

19 November 2018

Universal Oldschool RPG Mechanic Toolkit

Before I even explain what this is, I want to show off my favorite part of my Universal Oldschool RPG Mechanic Toolkit:


When playing an oldschool RPG, the usual procedure is of play is:

1. Referee describes the situation through the characters' senses.
2. Players ask questions.
3. Players take personal action with their character.
4. Referee resolves the consequences of the action and returns to step 1.

Step 1 is usually accomplished naturally based on the Referee’s knowledge of the overall setting and of the specific circumstances involved. When it isn’t, refer to Other Adjudication Methods in the linked document.

Step 4 usually happens according to the rules described in whatever system you’re using. Sometimes, however, you will find a gap in those rules requiring you to resolve consequences without a specific rule to help you do so. When that happens, refer to Player Action Resolution Methods in the linked document.